UN: Myanmar military ups airstrikes, mass killings to subjugate population


Volker Türk, the U.N. high commissioner for human rights, is calling for international action to bring an end to the increasingly brutal, repressive regime of Myanmar’s military, which toppled the country’s democratically elected government February 1, 2021, VOA reports.

In a report submitted Tuesday to the U.N. Human Rights Council, the U.N. rights chief warned that Myanmar’s military junta has “further expanded its assault” against the civilian population. The report covers the period from April 1, 2022, to July 31, 2023.

“We are faced here with a system of ruthless repression designed to coerce and subjugate its people and to erode a society so that the narrow interests of a kleptocratic elite are preserved,” said Türk.

“Each day, the people of Myanmar are enduring horrifying attacks, flagrant human rights violations and the crumbling of their livelihoods and hopes.”

Since he submitted his last report, the high commissioner said conditions in the country have further deteriorated with senseless military attacks “exacerbating the human rights crisis” and imposing an unbearable toll on the people of Myanmar.

Credible sources, he said, have verified a minimum of 4,108 deaths at the hands of the military and its affiliates.

“Three specific military tactics have been systematically directed against the civilian population: airstrikes, mass killings, and burning of villages,” he said.

During the reporting period, he said the military undertook 687 airstrikes, “more than double the number carried out in the 14 months following the coup.”

The report documents 22 mass killings, with witnesses describing methods used by the military to kill and inflict pain on their victims, “including burning them alive, dismembering, raping, beheading” and using abducted villagers to shield themselves against attacks and landmines.

“This is inhumanity in its vilest form,” said Türk.

While anti-military armed groups also resorted to targeted killings and bombings of public places, he said the scale of these violations was not comparable to those perpetrated by the military.

The report says civilian rule of law in Myanmar has vanished, noting that nearly 25,000 people have been arrested, more than 19,000 still are detained and 150 have been sentenced to death by military-controlled courts.

Myanmar has not responded to the report. It was not able to participate in the Council debate as a concerned country because the United Nations does not recognize the government of the military junta as legitimate.

The U.N. report condemns the military’s denial of humanitarian access and of life-saving medical care, shelter materials, food and clean water to the population following the devastating impact of Cyclone Mocha in May. It notes people in Myanmar’s Rakhine State, including members of the Muslim Rohingya community “continue to be deprived of food, medicines, and the necessary materials to rebuild their homes and their lives.”

Despite this abuse of the Rohingya, the military has been calling for the return of thousands of Rohingya refugees from Bangladesh to Rakhine State by the end of the year, “despite the clear absence of conditions for safe, dignified, and sustainable returns,” said Türk.

The high commissioner said there were no indications that Myanmar’s junta will “radically change and break the cycle of impunity that has characterized its operations for decades.”

He said his office has data confirming that foreign sources have been providing Myanmar with the heavy weaponry and other material used to kill its people. He said this deadly trade must stop.

He said perpetrators of the many crimes against the people of Myanmar must be held to account, given the gravity of the situation and impunity on the ground.

“I reiterate my call for the U.N. Security Council to refer this situation to the International Criminal Court,” he said.

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